Men's Basketball: Mount Union Could Not Pull Off Upset of #22 Marietta

JJ Kukura (Photo by: JT Higgins)
JJ Kukura (Photo by: JT Higgins)

MARIETTA, Ohio – Mount Union's men's basketball team was defeated 80-71 by No. 22 Marietta in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup Wednesday evening from the Ban Johnson Arena.

The Purple Raiders, now 10-10 overall and 6-7 in the OAC, were led by senior JJ Kukura (Alliance) who only needed one half to notch his second consecutive double-double as he finished the game with 29 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore's Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) and D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls) also posted 20 and 15 points, respectively.  

The Pioneers now 16-4 overall and 11-3 in the conference were led by Dillon Young who posted 25 points. Kyle Dixon and DeVaughn Wingard were also in double figures as they scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

With the game tied at four, Marietta went on a 9-2 run to open up a 13-6 lead with just over 14 minutes to go in the half. A three-point basket by Bower-Malone cut the Mount Union deficit to three at 20-17. Marietta then went on a short 5-0 run which Kukura answered with eight straight points to knot the game at 25 with 5:26 remaining.  

Mount Union grabbed its first lead at 28-27 on another Bower-Malone shot from distance with 3:26 remaining in the half. Marietta closed the half on a 12-7 run to claim a 39-35 lead.

Kukura led the Raiders in the half with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Bower-Malone had 14 points.

The Raiders opened the second half on a 15-4 run to grab a seven point lead at 50-43 with 14:46 remaining. Marietta answered with a 13-6 run to knot the game at 56 with 9:51 remaining. Then, Marietta went on a 17-8 run to open up a lead at 73-64, a deficit the Raiders could not come back from.

Mount Union shot 27-of-66 (41%) and 7-of-30 from distance (23.3%) while the Pioneers were 22-of-48 (46%) and 6-of-17 from three (35%). The Pioneers got to the line 35 times while making 30 (86%) and the Raiders were just 10-of-12 (83%).

The Raiders stay on the road as they travel to Capital on Saturday, February 3 at 2:00 p.m.